This is a reposting of my article on Writer Unboxed last week--I thought you might enjoy it, and WU wasn't able to insert all of the photos.
Call for submissions: If you’d like a fresh look at your work, please join the queue by emailing your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.
1. Unbox your thinking
Books are sold in bookstores, both brick-and-mortar and online, and in racks that you find at drugstores and airports and big-box stores. Right? Yes, but if you can identify an audience with an enhanced interest in an aspect of your book, there could be more places to sell it if you unbox your thinking just a little.
My novel, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles, is narrated by a calico tomcat. Cat lovers (or “cat people,” as we think of ourselves) are very interested in cats and their goings on. So where could I find a venue that has cat lovers streaming through it on a daily basis?
My local veterinarian’s—the animal hospital here in Pullman, Washington. I asked them if they’d take a local author’s book on consignment—they get 40% of the sale, just like a bookstore—and they agreed.
My book is featured on their front counter with a display that I provide. It includes a quote from a 5-star Midwest Book Review and a notice that the copies are signed by the author. The folks at the Alpine Animal Hospital report that customers like having that personal touch. In the last 7 months they’ve sold a dozen copies. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s next to the candy dish.
Recently, when I was waiting to talk to the manager of another veterinary hospital in neighboring Moscow, Idaho, a cat person noticed the book and bought a copy right then and there. And the vet took a display.
2. Unbox your book
Take it out of the carton and off your shelves and get it out there. I’m lucky to have a venue where people are especially interested in books—I do workshops at writers’ conferences. But there are a lot of books at writers’ conferences, so I’m just one of a crowd, and simply taking my books along and displaying them doesn’t give me an edge.
Except to that sharply focused demographic audience, cat people, who are everywhere, including at writers’ conferences. In a workshop at the February 2012 South Coast Writers’ Conference in Oregon, Pat Piper, owner of the Book Dock just down the coast in Brookings, Oregon, was in my session.
During a break, the cover caught her interest—she’s a cat person. She took a liking to The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles and bought 3 copies that day. By July she had bought 12 more—and this is in a town of 6400 people. The last shipment was also signed, at Pat’s request.
Pat displays the book on her front counter with a wire stand like the one below, and cat people ask about it. She’s read the book, so she can testify that it’s a fun read. And she tells customers that it’s good for young adult readers, too. By the way, there’s an official Book Dock cat on duty at her store, pictured here.
So, simply by being on display in the right places, The Vampire Kitty-cat Chronicles reaches out and engages its natural and best prospect. Well, not just “simply”—an eye-catching cover design and title that single out your special demographic are pretty darned necessary.
So, know your audience and then take your book to where they are. Then, as Patch, my cat character would say, “It is to purr.”